By Pei Zhong-Hai (Ex-President of LYCWI)
Reflections on Charity
Is charity a lifestyle? Or is it a corporate mission goal? I guess not. Some say there is love, there is philanthropist. Isn’t it? So what is charity really for? Personal reputation or corporate fame?
These are all puzzling questions.
Here let me introduce the two founders of The CEO Foundation (CEO): Mr. Joseph Chua and Ms. Christina Chua, a sister-brother team from Hong Kong. They have been carrying out charity in Henan for over twenty years. They have forsaken the US and Canada’s comfortable lives to develop charitable work in Luoyang, Henan. They offer unconditional love and countless assistance to orphaned children with disabilities, school drop-outs due to poverty, and families in distress. Their sacrifice is beyond comprehension. What are they after? Some say fame, others speculate they work for personal gain, and still others, they have nothing better to do…, etc. Their attitudes of despising and belittling the works of charity puzzle me. I resented these people’s ignorance and narrow-minded. What a pity!
Time flies, it is now 2021. Looking back, the Chua’s CEO team strived for us in the Mainland, bringing the charity work in China to a new horizon. All in all, they win reputation through helping numerous children, meeting their various needs. I’d like to highlight some significant contributions they made over the last two decades.
Overcoming hurdles; Magnificent scenery
The Luoyang Children Welfare Institute (LYCWI) was founded in 1951. For several decades, the orphaned children lacked parental tender-loving care and deprived from school due to their varying degrees of disability. Ninety percent of these children are lame, mostly wheelchair-bound or bedridden. The CWI’s nannies could at most offer some children superficial, fragmented, elementary education.
In 2003, to practically help our orphaned children CEO approached the local Education Bureau and local community organizations to partner with their Family Anew program. They also recruited many volunteer workers. By liaising and visiting relevant parties, they collaborated with the local government and enabled many disabled children regained home parental care and some even a chance to go to school. In order to realize, we co-operated in the following hard work:
- First, we need to screen eligible children who may adapt to a nuclear family setting. Then, after several monthly tedious process of interaction, exploration, and research with the LYCWI officer, near two hundred out of six hundred orphans were eligible to join the CEO Family Anew Foster Care program. Foster parents were given direct responsibilities for their children’s daily care, some including traveling them to school which initially helped children with disabilities back to school.
- We liaised with the schools, persuading them to accept our children. After much negotiation, we gained the approval and support from the Luoyang Municipal Education Commission, the District Education Bureau, and partnered with many local schools. They let our special-need children study with other children in school, giving them a chance to integrate back to society and received normal education. This endeavor won the public and Party Cadres acclamations.
- Resolve transportation difficulties: Most of our children were physically disabled and had great difficulty moving around. It was a huge challenge for the foster parents. Therefore, CEO launched a fundraising campaign to procure electric tricycles and wheelchairs for the children and families in the program. Disabled children could then travel safely to school without worries. These foster parents and their children riding on electric tricycles and wheelchairs on their way to school became a picturesque scene that was splendid and heartwarming. Our children entered school in high spirits, which generated applause from the public.
- Boundless love; everlasting philanthropy
It is impossible to proceed with charity work without resources, including staffing and monetary support. To help the needy orphans, CEO brought in resources to Luoyang and invested in the wellbeing of those neglected lives. To have a more comprehensive perspective of their needs, Mr. Chua migrated to Luoyang with his wife and children shortly after the program commenced. Other members of the Chua family joined forces with assistance and contribution. To ensure smooth running of the program fostering orphaned and disabled children from the LYCWI to local families, the CEO team made considerable efforts to raise funds in Hong Kong and abroad.
Luoning was a poverty-stricken county. When CEO team visited Luoning, they found many children are living in hardship remoted areas. They mobilized volunteers and resources to extend assistance to the rural distressed families. Those compassionate supporters included well-known artists like Ms. Sheren Tang Shui-Man, Ms. Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi, and Ms. Pinky Cheung Man-Chi. Their love-in-action truly went beyond their known publicity as the journey to visit those children and families was no way near comfortable or convenient.
For over two decades, CEO encountered insurmountable difficulties in raising funds and resources. These difficulties could never be accounted for or measured. Yet, the sister-brother team never complained but determined in such a call to help the needy despite all challenges. They understood the limitations of the local government and the modest general income of the community. Therefore, CEO never raised a penny from the mainland local community, nor a cent raised was being wasted or embezzled. CEO’s integrity and compassion won respect and admiration from the public. Truly boundless love, everlasting philanthropy.
Fundraising for the orphans through self-sustaining projects
The Luoning Children Welfare Institute (LNCWI) was the first federal funding county-based children’s home. Before we could complete the renovation of the three-stories building, over a hundred poverty-stricken and children-in-distress were already housed through the local social welfare department. The demand was vast. We had heavy expenses, including living allowance, medical, tutoring, and clothing expenditures. Government subsidy per child-in-residence was meager to sustain a child’s basic living, let alone their education.
Hence, CEO helped to develop almost eight acres of land by building it into a self-sustainable multi-tasking farm at the CWI premises. This immensely helped alleviate children’s difficulties. Such projects involved growing vegetables and building a large greenhouse to grow nutritious mushrooms. They spared no pain buying mushroom and veggie seeds from Luoyang and brought in experienced farmers to teach the volunteers and workers how to tending the farm. Not long after, LNCWI children could taste fresh vegetables and mushrooms and partially relieved the shortage of funding.
CEO foundation also experimentally constructed an innovative odorless pigpen. The project improved and enriched LYCWI children’s livelihood by learning and working at the farm while experiencing the joy of charity.
To enable the children to receive modern education, CEO also renovated a multi-purpose training center at the LNCWI. Within the CEO Center were a life education library, piano and other musical instruments practice rooms, a dance studio, a bilingual kindergarten, an audio-visual activity hall, etc. There equipped computers, various teaching tools, and state-of-the-art software. To broaden the children’s horizons, they would periodically invite different overseas professional to conduct volunteer courses at the center.
The CEO program ran at the LNCWI won the Henan provincial government’s acclaim and later being promoted nationwide as one of the “First Four Models of Practice for Children Welfare Institute”.
Funding Aid for Education
It came to CEO attention for the poorly equipped Wuxi Primary School located in rural Luoning. The school lacked necessary indoor and outdoor tools and facilities for providing a holistic education to developing children. Such as musical instruments, art and crafts materials, a safe playground, exercising equipment, and a track field for various sports. A thousand school children were deprived from extracurricular training and learning opportunities. Thus, CEO extended their program to help the school built a modernized playground for sports and outdoor activities. They also brought in training material and equipment for physical education. Besides, CEO set up a multi-purpose classroom for the school equipped with characters development tools. The whole school cheered. CEO would sometimes bring in overseas volunteers to coach the students. These interactions with the outside world enhanced sociability for the secluded poor community. The local Education Units were grateful for CEO’s generous benevolence.
Aside from helping a local school, CEO extended timely financial assistance to school dropouts due to poverty or physical disability. They including junior and senior high school students, college students, and home-schooled children. With CEO, these children realized their dreams of learning. For many years, we collaborated with the CEO to help those who were educationally, financially and medically/physically in need children in Luoyang. These were long term difficult issues for the local government while only NGOs may be willing to fill in by then. Joined hands with CEO assistance did offer solutions to the local government. The Chua’s team led CEO charitable efforts and accomplishments were indescribable. I am full of sentiments about what they have achieved, and I am overwhelmed with their boundless. We are most grateful for CEO’s contribution to the disabled children, the school drop-outs and the orphans in Henan. Thanks for what they have done for the younger generation. Let’s pay tribute to such great selfless dedication.